M.M. v. County of Kern et al

Filing 38

ORDER After Further Scheduling Conference; ORDER STAYING THE CASE, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 6/22/2017. Further Scheduling Conference set for 8/11/2017 at 09:00 AM; joint report due one week in advance of hearing. (Hall, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 M.M., 12 13 14 Plaintiff, v. COUNTY OF KERN, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 17 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 1:16-cv-00376 DAD JLT ORDER AFTER FURTHER SCHEDULING CONFERENCE; ORDER STAYING THE CASE On June 21, 2017, the Court held a further scheduling conference at the request of counsel 18 (Doc. 31). (Doc. 32). Counsel requested the further scheduling conference due to the significant 19 delay in receiving juvenile records related to M.M. 20 At the hearing, counsel reported that the Kern County Juvenile had granted the Welfare and 21 Institutions Code § 827 petitions seeking “prior police records, juvenile court records, school 22 records, mental and medical health records and Juvenile Hall records” (Doc. 31-1 at 2). However, 23 inexplicably, the juvenile court produced only records which were held by the court without 24 comment about the records held by the various third-party agencies1. Thus, counsel intend to seek 25 clarification from the juvenile court. 26 27 28 1 Of course, the juvenile court, according to state law, is obligated to control the production of agency records according to Welfare and Institutions Code § 827. In re Elijah S., 125 Cal.App.4th 1532, 1549 (2005). The Court presumes the juvenile court intended the grant of the § 827 petitions as implicit authorization that the litigants here may obtain the records from the third-party agencies. 1 1 Though the Court wholeheartedly endorses the rationale behind the provisions of section 2 827, the Court’s obligations, first and foremost, are to this case and to the promotion of the 3 interests of fairness. The parties are entitled to the discovery found in the juvenile court and 4 agency records but their efforts at obtaining this discovery has been largely thwarted. This case 5 has languished due, in large part, to the juvenile court’s inability to act on the section 827 petitions 6 in a more timely fashion2 and the litigants and this case can wait no more. 7 This Court is not bound by the provisions of section 827. Although the privacy rights of 8 juveniles should be strongly protected, there is no undue encroachment on M.M.’s privacy rights if 9 the records are disclosed in this action. In fact, M.M. wishes to rely on these records to prove her 10 case against the defendants. Thus, failure to obtain the records could impinge on M.M.’s rights. 11 Further, the juvenile court has demonstrated its belief that the records should be disclosed by 12 producing those records held by it. 13 In addition, to the extent that the privacy rights of M.M. or any other dependent or ward, 14 officers or third parties is at risk, the Court will require that the information will not be disclosed 15 outside of this case and will be subject to a stipulated protective order which will serve to protect 16 the privacy of these individuals as much as possible. Finally, public policy favors disclosure of the 17 records in this case. At issue in this case are claims of serious misconduct on law enforcement 18 officers and there is a strong public interest in disputes moving forward in an efficient and fair 19 manner. Therefore, the Court will direct counsel3 to seek the records from the agencies directly 20 through the means of a subpoena. Moreover, the Court stands ready, as necessary, to compel these 21 parties to comply. Thus, the Court ORDERS: 22 1. No later than June 27, 2017, Plaintiffs SHALL issue subpoenas for prior law 23 enforcement records involving contacts with M.M., M.M.’s school records, mental and medical 24 health records and the records held by the Kern County Probation Department related to M.M. 25 M.M. and/or the guardian ad litem SHALL execute whatever releases are necessary to facilitate 26 27 28 2 The Court understands the extreme demands on the time of the juvenile court and does not intend this as criticism. 3 Plaintiffs are equally anxious to obtain this information and expressed no objection to seeking the records via subpoena and agreed to provide signed consent forms for this purpose. 2 1 obtaining these records. Defendants may join in the subpoenas; 2. 2 Counsel SHALL maintain the confidentiality of these records and SHALL NOT 3 disclose them outside of this litigation. Counsel SHALL draft a stipulated protective order to 4 address the records obtained and SHALL file it for the Court’s consideration, no later than August 5 4, 2017; 3. 6 7 No later than June 27, 2017, counsel SHALL file a request for clarification with the Kern County Superior Court related to the agency records sought in the § 827 petitions; 4. 8 The case is STAYED pending the further hearing on August 11, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. 9 At least one week in advance of the hearing, counsel SHALL file a joint report setting forth the 10 status of the subpoenas for records and SHALL propose case deadlines for the remainder of the 11 case. 12 13 14 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 22, 2017 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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